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PERCEPTION AN APPROACH TO PERSONALITY By

ROBERT

R.

IBLAKE

Associate Professor of Psychology

The

University of Texas

and

GLENN

V.

RAMSEY

Professor of Psychology

The

'

University of Texas

in collaboration with

ERNEST R. HILGARD GEORGE S. KLEIN ALFRED KORZYBSKI JAMES G. MILLER

FRANK A. BEACH URIE BRONFENBRENNER JEROME S. BRUNER NORMAN CAMERON

WAYNE DENNIS ELSE FRENKEL-BRUNSWIK

CARL

R.

LOUIS J. MORAN CLIFFORD T. MORGAN

ROGERS

THE RONALD PRESS COMPANY

i

NEW YORK

Copyright, 1951, by

The Ronald

Press Company

All Rights Reserved text of this publication or any part thereof may not be reproduced in any in writing from the publisher.

The

manner whatsoever without permission

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 51-10243

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

PREFACE This book presents the view that the study of perceptual activity provides a basic approach to an understanding of personality and interpersonal relations.

Perceptual activity supplies the materials

from which the individual constructs his own personally meaningful environment. This concept is employed in this volume as the frame of reference for interpreting and interrelating data from many diverse fields of personality investigation.

The advances being made

in the perceptual approach to personality dozen different research centers are here combined in organized form. Following a general orientation to this approach, the book discusses the physical and chemical determinants of perception, the social and developmental factors which influence the individual's perceptual activities, and the role of perceptual constructs in unconscious processes, behavior pathology, and psychotherapy. So fruitful has

at a

been the impact of the perceptual approach upon the investigation of personality organization that, in the authors' view, it provides the means for constructing a comprehensive theory of personality. In addition to the total contribution which the studies included in this book make to perceptual theory in the field of personality, each one records recent thinking and developments in the particular area which it covers. Throughout the book it is evident that the perceptual

approach lends

itself to

the formulation of testable hypotheses

in the field of personality research.

volume were delivered in substance at the 1949-1950 Clinical Psychology Symposium held at the University of Texas, an undertaking which received financial support from a grant awarded by the National Institute of Mental Health of the United States Public Health Service. The book itself is an outgrowth of the Symposium, which was organized and directed by Robert R. Blake and Glenn V. Ramsey. >v^M^ '^ In the effort to achieve continuity and integration of the discus> „: „„4.i „.„^ ,.:^^A ,,ruu ^^ sion, each author was provided with an outline of the theoretical framework of the Symposium at the start of the project. The speakers were scheduled at intervals of two or three weeks, so that each one had time to familiarize himself with the contributions of those who had preceded him. Each author likewise was given the opportunity to revise his chapter after all of the papers had been pre-

The

thirteen papers comprising this

1

^

4

PREFACE

iv

sented.

This plan of operation has,

we

beheve, produced a book with

greater unity of theoretical approach than

is

commonly achieved

in

projects of multiple authorship.

The book

is

intended for use in upper-level courses in perception,

and experimental,

clinical, and social psychology. Students in the neighboring disciplines of psychiatry, physiology, anthropology, sociology, social work, and semantics can profitably refer

personality,

to in

it for information and integrative concepts which are helpful understanding basic psychological aspects of these subjects. Clini-

and psychiatrists will find a conveniently classified guide to recent perceptual research on personality in the text of the various chapters and the extensive chapter bibliographies. Comprehensive indexes of authors and subjects provide a means of rapid cal psychologists

reference to the several hundred separate investigations cited.

The authors wish to express their appreciation of the assistance given at various points by Jacob Berg, Mrs. Wayne E. Brand, Ralph Fingar, Mrs. Mary S. Ramsey, Nina L. Smelcer, James D. Vanderplas,

and Glen P. Wilson.

The University

of

Texas contributed

financial assistance in the final preparation of the manuscript.

R.R.B. G.V.R. January, 1951

CONTENTS page chapter Perceptual Processes as Basic to an Understanding of 1 ^ Complex Behavior 3

.......

By Robert

R. Blake, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology, The University of Texas with Glenn V. Ramsey, Ed.D., Professor of Psychology, and Louis J. Moran, M.A., Teaching Fellow in Psychology, The University of Texas ;

Some Structural Factors in Perception By Clifford T. Morgan, Ph.D., Professor of

2

...

25

Psychology and

Chairman, Department of Psychology, Johns Hopkins University

.....

Body Chemistry and Perception By Frank A. Beach, Ph.D., Professor

3

University

The Role

4

of Learning in Perception

56

of Psychology, Yale

....

95

By Ernest

R. Hilgard, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Executive Head, Department of Psychology, Stanford University

Personality Dynamics and the Process of Perceiving

5 *"

'

By Jerome

S.

Bruner, Ph.D., Associate Professor

.

121

of Social

Psychology and Research Associate in the Laboratory of Social Relations,

6 ""^

Harvard University

Cultural and Developmental Factors in Perception By Wayne Dennis, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Chair.

148

man, Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh

7

"^

The Role

of Language in the Perceptual Processes By Alfred Korzybski, Late President and Director, Institute .

170

.

206

of General Semantics

8

Toward an Integrated Theory

of Personality

.

By Urie Bronfenbrenner,

Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and of Child Development and Family Relationships, Cornell University

9

....

Unconscious Processes and Perception By James G. Miller, M.D., Ph.D., Professor

of

Psychology in

the Department of Psychology and in the Division of Psychiatry of the Department of Medicine, and Chairman, Department of

Psychology, University of Chicago

258

CONTENTS

vi

chapter 10 Perceptual Organization and Behavior Pathology

page .

283

By Norman Cameron,

M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin 11

.........

Perceptual Reorganization in Client-Centered

Therapy By Carl

307

R. Rogers, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Executive Secretary of the Counseling Center, University of Chicago

12 """"

13

The Personal World Through

Perception

.

.

.

328

Klein, Ph.D., Department of Research, Menninger Foundation

By George

S.

....

Personality Theory and Perception By Else Frenkel-Brunswik, Ph.D., Lecturer

356

Psychology, and Research Associate of the Institute of Child Welfare, Uniin

versity of California

Index of Names

......... ........

Index of Subjects

421

427

ILLUSTRATIONS PAGE

FIGURE

.......

in the eyes of different vertebrates

27

1.

Rods and cones found

2.

Principal cutaneous receptors

3.

Relative excitability of four types of receptors found by Granit in

mammalian

different 4.

.

.

.

.

.

.

29

.31

.

......... ...........

Thresholds auditory

eyes

.

response

of

frequencies

different

at

individual

for

32

neurons

5.

Pfaffmann's results with individual fibers from the taste nerve of a

6.

Coupling of "red" and "green" receptors

cat

and 7.

of "blue"

and "yellow" components

33

snake

in the eye of the

in the eye of the frog

34

.

.... ........ .... .....••••

Composite schematic diagram

of inhibitory and response areas of

individual elements of the cat's auditory system

35

8.

Activity of three types of ganglion cells distinguished in the verte-

9.

Pain units mapped

36

brate eye by Hartline in

an experiment by Bishop

10.

Synaptic summation

11.

Diagram

12.

Schematic diagram of the electrical theory of direct inhibition

images on cerebral cortex

illustrating projection of

39

.

40

.

42

.....

13.

Somatic areas of the cortex in the

rabbit, cat,

14.

Auditory areas of the monkey,

and dog

15.

Main

cat,

.

38

and monkey

43

.

.

44

....... .......•••

excitatory and suppressor areas of the sensory and motor

cortex of the chimpanzee 16.

Interrelations

chimpanzee 17.

(homolateral)

various

of

cortical

areas

Composite diagram of the supposed "association" areas of the cerebral cortex

.

.

.

.

.

.



of

dim

light,



tested by brighter one

.51

18.

Performance of

19.

Adrenalectomy

20.

Androgen

21.

Tracings of microscopic sections through the glans penis of seventeen

injections to rats before

rats

and after castration

.

.

.

22.

Section of epithelium of glans in a normal animal

23.

Section of epithelium of glans in a castrated animal

24.

Section through the epithelium of a normal glans, magnification

approximately 230

vii

^8

human

.....-••• .......••• .... ....•••••

rats trained to

46

the

60 ^'

78 87

ILLUSTRATIONS

viii

FIGURE

PAGE

.........

25.

Section through

26.

Relation between number of "spikes" and mating behavior

27.

Silhouette that looks like a

28.

Discrepancy between retinal image and the figure that

29. 30.

Three arrangements, each perceived monocularly as a cube Plan of distorted room

31.

How

32.

Distorted sizes of faces at the windows of a distorted

33.

Judgment

34.

Distance as produced by natural gradient of texture

35.

The

the

approximately 375

epithelium of a

when moved

a goose

the distorted

normal glans, magnification

.

.

...... ........ ...... ....... hawk when moved

to the right

and

perceived .

.

room appears

room

96 98 99 101

102

.

.

108

.

.

109

of size at a distance

.

89

like

to the left

is

89

.......... ......... ..........

109

process of abstracting from an electro-coUodial non-Aristotelian

point of view 36.

Macroscopic abstractions and submicroscopic process

37.

Correlations between self and self-ideal

apples, side

level of

two

sorts before, during,

and

by side

after therapy

map

Q

....

of the leveling-sharpening dimension

38.

Conceptual

39.

Alternative manifestations of the same drive

.

.

.

173

187

319

340 362

PERCEPTION—AN APPROACH TO PERSONALITY

CHAPTER

1

PERCEPTUAL PROCESSES AS BASIC TO AN UNDERSTANDING OF COMPLEX BEHAVIOR By Robert

R. Blake, Ph.D. with

Glenn V. Ramsey

Ed.D., and Louis

J.

Moran, M.A.

Few branches of history reveal a story more fascinating than the one which traces man's attempt to understand the universe and himHow does man "know" the objects of his enself in relation to it. vironment? How does one man come to know another man? Why do things look as they do? Does the world register on each person in about the same way ? What are the determinants of the different ways in which individuals react to their physical and social surroundings ? The present book is concerned with a systematic examination of such questions.

Ways

of

Knowing

Before introducing a discussion of these and other problems, it is important to state the basic issue in its clearest form. In addition to the common-sense way of knowing, there are numerous approaches

problem of accounting for the nature of reality the theological, and scientific ones are included among them. And, of course, the form of approach determines the fabric of the reality which comes to be understood as a result of its application. But since the approach which is best anchored in observation and which possesses the most efficient methods for checking or verifying the adequacy or accuracy of the account of reality thus fabricated is the scientific one, it should be possible to cut to the heart of the issue by examining the techniques of knowing the world that have been developed by the most competent observer, the scientist. How does the

to the

;

philosophical,

scientist

observe ?

Broadly speaking, the method of science it,

the process of "sciencing"





or, as

White (34)

calls

involves the application of a cyclical

process of at least three general phases. desire to understand or account for

This process

some

is

based on the

aspect of nature.

It begins

with an explicit statement of the problem to be explained or accounted 3

PERCEPTION—AN APPROACH TO PERSONALITY

4

for in the

[Ch.

i

form of a conceptual system, expressed in terms of testable Such propositions, in turn, lead to planned or con-

propositions.

trolled observation designed to permit unbiased

adequacy of the conceptual system observation.

In the

final phase,

examination of the under

in accounting for the events

the investigator confirms, modifies,

or rejects the conceptual beliefs which initiated the sequence in ac-

cordance with the yield from the planned observation, thus completing the process. The conclusions drawn from the completion of one cycle serve as the propositions to be tested in the next one, and so

on (4).

An interesting change has

occurred as a consequence of the applicaproblem of understanding.

tion of this systematic approach to the

The empiricism

of the prescientific era with

its

emphasis on "fact-

raw sense perception has given way to the more adequate approach to knowing described in the preceding paragraph. "Seeing is believing" no longer serves as an adequate criterion of reality. As a consequence, what is "known" at any moment is not a fact seen from the absolute standpoint of the observer. Rather, the investigator knows only the representation of events or process. The reality behind such representation is inferred. Its meaning is interpreted always with respect to the error parameters attributable to inaccuracy in observation from an explicitly stated point of view. In other words, the conditions and operations under which the observations were made determine the interpretation of the nature of reality at any particular moment. The culmination of the application of this process in physics led Barnett in The Universe and Dr. Einstein to remark that, "In accepting a mathematical description of nature, physicists have been forced to abandon the ordinary world finding" through reliance on





of our experience, the world of sense perceptions" (1).

Now

if

the scientist finds

it

necessary to reject as untrustworthy

knowledge about his subject matter gained through raw perception, what are the implications of this for the behavior of the nonscientifically trained individual and for the behavior of the sci-

direct

entist

when not

individual to do

dealing in his

when

all

own

specialized field?

that he has to guide

gleaned without the benefit (and in possibility) of either

an

many

him

is

What

is

the

sensory evidence

cases without even the

explicitly stated conceptual

system to direct

his selection of information or of controlled observation to correct

his possible bias in interpretation?

How

can his thousands of daily

choice-point actions be immediate, spontaneous, and "correct"

they can in no systematic

way

when

be based on the meticulous and time-

consuming techniques of knowing used routinely in controlled inquiry ? A moment's reflection suggests that, while they may be both

Ch.

UNDERSTANDING COMPLEX BEHAVIOR

i]

5

immediate and spontaneous, they never can be correct in any absolute They can be correct in terms only of degree, valid only with respect to their internal consistency, to their consistency with comparable events experienced in the past, or in terms of their agreement with what is known by others to be correct. Experiments from the psychological laboratory, for example, have demonstrated amply that no perceptual discrimination is correct, except within a margin of error that there is no absolutely valid judgment. And sometimes, as in the Ames demonstrations (18), it is not difficult to show that the margin of interpretive error is very wide. While, in contrast with the scientist, the individual has no techniques readily available through which to assay, in an unbiased and rigorous fashion, the extent of his interpretive error, he must nevertheless act because his environment is never static. sense.



Perceptual Basis of Behavior

when viewed from the standpoint of other cannot abandon perception as his basis for provides him the immediate as well as the ultimate founda-

In spite of

its relativity,

criteria, the individual

action.^

It

should be pointed out that such terms as organism, interaction, emnronment, are abstractions about behavior which have been drawn and defined in a classtheoretic tradition. In the recent literature they have been used in field-theoretic contexts. Much of the confusion in present thinking can be avoided by keeping in mind the conceptual system to which the words refer. In a field-theoretic context, an organism can be identified as one focal aspect of process, the environment as another, and the moment of exchange between these foci as interaction. Interaction, then, is synonymous with the term behavior; and as such it is inclusive of all forms of exchange, ranging from the activity of breathing or ingesting food to waving to a neighbor or using mathematical symbols. It is not, however, the view drawn from classical mechanics, i.e., there is no implication of balanced components here. Furthermore, when seen in larger contexts, these interactions may best be thought of as transactions of a sort (7). But since not all varieties of interaction can effectively be studied in a simultaneous and undifferentiated way, it seems desirable to restrict and group certain forms which have a common core. The interactions that are under examination in the present volume are grouped under the term perception, a further delineation of the implications of which is given below. (See Kantor [11, 12] in this regard.) As the term is used here, perception refers to those interactions between an organism and its (necessary) environment in which the form of response is governed by the signal or sign significance as contrasted with the energy strength or quality or pattern of the stimulus configuration itself. In these cases the signal or sign significance of the stimulus comes to exist (either spontaneously or effortfuUy) as an emergent from certain specific previous organism-environment interactions of the individual. Responses in this restricted aspect of the total gamut of interactions, then, are always indirect; the reaction is not governed solely by the energy characteristics or preformed pattern of stimulus-neural configurations it is determined by the meaning the individual's prior experiences have "given" to the stimulus configuration (i.e., the conceptual set, or assumption, or personality configuration, or schema defined as an emergent from prior perception). The reaction need not, of course, be verbal; as Boring has pointed out (3), it may be communicated to the observer in an almost infinite number of ways. 1

It

etc.,

;

— PERCEPTION—AN APPROACH TO PERSONALITY

6

[Ch.

i

Unlike the scientist's reality, however, the indinot fabric composed from a systematic and orderly accumulation of verified inferences. It is only in cases of interaction with stable stimulus objects arranged in relatively fixed stimulus pat-

tion of experience. vidual's reality

is

and chairs), where sequential feed-back corrections easily and without effort or notice, that the individual's knowledge approaches the level of correspondence with

terns (like tables of error can be

made

external events requisite to smooth, undisturbed adjustment.

Necessary as these kinds of adjustment

are,

it is

becoming apparent

that they do not represent the only important adjustments of the

The achievement of stable and accurate perceptual conwith the social events involved in interpersonal activity is also of importance for effective adjustment. In action with dynamic stimulus forms, such as a conversation with other persons, the procurement of correct knowledge is sometimes rather difficult, often impossible. Correction for error cannot easily be made in terms of sequential feed-back modifications. Rather, it must be made in terms individual.

tact

If the norm against which judged is intangible or coarse, the correction will at best be rough and will only crudely approximate to the stimulus situation to which it relates.^ This is so not only because of the complexity and variability intrinsic to such stimulus forms but also because the behaviors of other persons that can be seen and heard are only signals and sometimes very elusive and subtle ones for the motivations or intents which they express. As with stable stimulus objects, the individual can organize his social perceptions only in terms of sensory evidence. Yet his interest is directed to inferring the intents or implications which underlie such sensory information, because, as has already been suggested, the adequacy of an individual's adjustment is dependent on the accuracy, conformity, or tolerability of his inferences about the meaning of the sensory information to which he is

of fairly gross trial-and-check procedures.

a check



is



It is recognized that this is an arbitrary distinction and that the several aspects of interaction are not actually separable in any completely satisfactory way. For example, no rigid distinctions between such terms as perception, cognition, judgment, inference, etc., have been drawn in the present work. Such distinctions at best are arbitrary. The behaviors collected by any one of these terms seem inevitably imder critical operational examination to blend with behaviors segregated by the others. This definition of perception serves to delimit the scope of subject matter under consideration in the present book. For research purposes, of course, it is often desirable to maximize such differences in order to bring out certain significant relationships

which might otherwise be obscured. When the term is used with different implications by other contributors, modifications in the definition of perception given here are noted. 2 But the need for correction of bias or error in interpretation is by no means always self-evident. Many times the need may even pass unrecognized. And not infrequently, as in some forms of mental illness, the person is actively resistant to the modification or correction of biased, invalid interpretations.

Ch.

i]

UNDERSTANDING COMPLEX BEHAVIOR

7

exposed, modified of course by the latitude in interpretive error per-

mitted by his cultural group.

Future research

will

undoubtedly be

concerned not only with establishing empirically the determinants of valid interpretations and the degrees of latitude in error tolerable within any particular cultural group but also with identifying the manner in which an individual comes to "know" when he has transgressed these tolerance limits and with clarifying understanding of the determinants of inejfficiency in detecting

when such parameters

have been grossly exceeded.

Viewed from this general standpoint, an individual's perceptual must be fabricated from his current organization of personally

activity

meaningful and significant experiences.

These integrations, which

achieve conceptual representation in the form of the individual's

unique organization of internal sets, beliefs, attitudes, selector tendencies, or hypotheses, are derived from the ascientific techniques of knowing adapted from the past for use in achieving a stable, definite, and predictable present. While they may yield consequences appropriate to the situational demands which evoke them, there is no a priori reason to assume that they will, because with but few exceptions they are not molded on the basis of adequate inferences. On the other hand, many perceptual outcomes, because of the repetitive frequency with which they have occurred in the past, the feasibility of sequential feed-back corrections, or both, are appropriate and accurate. Except for these

most carefully practiced reactions to

tions, perceptual interactions

stable stimulus situa-

commonly yield information which cor-

responds to the features of the external realities to which they apply in only a semiadequate way. Why do such discrepancies tend to develop ? They tend to develop sometimes because the opportunity of checking against adequate norms is nil or because adequate norms do concerned), and sometimes beextremely limited or the range of exposure is so narrow as effectively to prevent the crystallization of functionally adequate checking techniques from developing. Nevernot exist (as far as the individual cause the frequency of exposure

is

is

emergents from prior perceptual activities must enter outcomes of present and future perceptual interactions. The important question now becomes What are the determinants of perception? This question identifies a critical problem that must be answered in order to achieve new insights into the determinants of complex behavior. The present approach to an understanding of individual personality, then, entails a significant shift in emphasis. Rather than searching for personality factors or dimensions or applying psychodiagnostheless, these

as critical conditions determining the

:

tic labels

or identifying the traits underlying individual differences in

PERCEPTION—AN APPROACH TO PERSONALITY

8

[Ch.

i

behavior, the effort shifts to the deHneation and description of the determinants of individual differences in perceiving. As Murphydescribes

it,

we understand

we

go far in underbetween the outer world and the individual is gravely misconstrued by the assumption that this world registers upon us all in about the same way, that the real differences between people are differences in what is done about this world. The contemporary point of view has involved emphasis upon the basic notion that every individual lives in a more or less "private world" there is no standard objective world except through our slow yielding to a rather painful compromise process that is less coercive, less "final," than the private world (23).^ If

the differences in perceiving

standing the differences in the resulting behavior.

.

.

shall

The

relation

.

.

.

For the purpose,

.

.

.

;

.

then, of clarifying the importance of various

conditions that enter to determine the outcomes from perceptual interactions, the conceptual

scheme described belov^

identifies for dis-

cussion a

number

structural

and experiential determinants of perception.

of determinants, categorized for convenience as

Conceptual Framework of This Book

The most important adjustments of the individual are not the consequence of the direct effect on the organism of stimulus energies or stimulus patterns. Rather, human behavior is governed by learned interpretations or implications assigned

configurations of stimulus energies.* act only

on the

Since

basis of experience to

humans know and

on the basis of such sensory evidence, one of the

of psychological theory

is

inter-

crucial tasks

to render perceptual activity understand-

able. It is

postulated at the outset that perceptual transactions are in-

strumental

3

guide the reacting system within Klein (13) writes, "the person is a

activities, activities that

the larger aspects of nature.

From Gardner Murphy,

Structure, copyright 1947 by

As

Personality: A Biosocial Approach to Origins and & Bros. By permission of the author and the

Harper

publishers. * Many of these learned interpretations or implications are undoubtedly superimposed on substructures of preformed or nativistically given stimulus-neural configurations. This would appear to be the case, for example, in space or color perception, within certain limits, and it would account for the highly accurate agree-

ment among different observers as to characteristics within the purely physical world. But whether they are or are not superimposed on such substructures, complex sensorimotor adjustments appear necessarily to require experiential antecedents prior to their emergence as effective behavior patterns. This interpretation appears to be consistent with the implications stemming from Senden's data (28) and with those from the reports by Riesen (26). It may at least to a degree be at variance with Pratt's (25) analysis of the role of past experience in visual



perception, however.



Ch.

UNDERSTANDING COMPLEX BEHAVIOR

i]

9

though dynamic, this system is quasi-stable and continuous. It must continually bring into harmony needs, impulses, and wishes, and buffer these turbulences from within against limitations from without." The system is, in a word, an agency of self-regulative system;

organized to make probable

interaction,

temporal-social continuation.

any

specific individual

the

manner

in

is,

which he

its

The meaning

own

effective spatial-

of the term effective for

of course, critical to an understanding of will strive for continuation

through the

But the and the manner in which it should be a conceptual system have not yet been explained in any

application of the balancing techniques available to him. central issue of motivation dealt with in

completely satisfactory or testable way.^

Each

individual begins with certain physical structures, including

the receptor, central, and effector nervous systems as well as the skeletal,

respiratory,

digestive,

and other systems.

These several

part-systems in unitary organization constitute the more important structures involved in perception.

The

selective

these part-systems are utilized in perception,

manner

however,

is

in

which

largely de-

termined by the unique interaction between the individual and the cultural media which he has passed through and of which he is a part at present. Thus, the way one sees reality is contingent not only

on the capacity of his given physical structure for detecting stimulus configurations and integrating information about stimuli but also on modifications in the use of the structure which derive from the impact of experience. The summed effects result in the individual's having less appropriate response patterns ready in order to cope with each of a myriad of specific stimulus configurations. Such a formulation of the problem is not new. In various ways it is basic to the approaches founded on experimental data that have been developed by Coutu (5), Hebb (9), Krech and Crutchfield (17), Kantor (12), Masserman (22), Parsons (24), Sherif and Cantril (29), Sny gg and Combs (30), Sullivan (31), and a number of others. It has elements in common with the problem as seen by several pioneers in psychology: Wundt (37), Titchener (32), and James (10) saw many of the significant problems of today very clearly before the turn of the century. But the implications in 1950

more or

are, of course, different.

In this chapter the physical characteristics of the perceiving system The conditions that

are referred to as the structural determinants.

^ The current tendency to represent motivational problems in animistic forms stands as testimony to the inadequacy of conceptual representation in dynamic terms. This is, however, probably a necessary stage in achieving the more desirable statement.

)

PERCEPTION—AN APPROACH TO PERSONALITY

10

[Ch.

i

determine the individual's instrumental utilization of these structures

viewed as the experiential determinants, from the individual's given physical structure but also from the contributions and limitations imposed on it by experience. These two are inextricably interconnected each experience in specific stimulus fields are

since they stem not only

;

modifies the reaction potentialities of the structure; the modified structure in

is

then set to define the next related stimulus configuration way and is in turn modified by subsequent

a characteristic



The more

accurate statement then would be one in which structure and function are treated as inseparable, i.e., as strucdefinitions, etc.

ture-function.

In brief, then, the consequence is that each individual perceives a given reality in a characteristic way, and in this sense there are as

many

realities as there are perceivers. The particular way in which an individual interprets a stimulus configuration dictates his reaction to it. But since each Individual possesses in the beginning a some-

what

similar structure, the discussion of the perceptual determinants

logically begins at this point.

Structural Determinants in Perceptual Activity Basic to an understanding of complex behavior of

its

structural foundation.

As

is

an appreciation

has been indicated, the functional

no more than the operation of strucBut for discussion purposes, it is necesterms of these two levels. (See Lewin [19] In this

aspects are, as a matter of fact,

ture under given conditions.

sary to deal In connection.

Seen ties

is

In longitudinal perspective, the function of the sense modali-

to furnish evidence about the environment.

The course

of

evolution has, with exceptions, been that of furnishing organisms

with more adequate structures for detection, the rule being that the more complex the organism neurologlcally, the more adequate the equipment for perceiving the potential richness of environmental de-



But evidence that receptors ^viewed from a relative standpoint provide only a somewhat crude version of reality is suggested by the fact that science has extended the parameters of the world far beyond the dimensions known through unassisted sensory stimulation. The extensions of knowledge made possible by the microscope and tail.



telescope serve as examples of

how

reality

expands under

artificially

aided sensory functioning.

The

receptor systems provide information on the internal status of

the organism

and on the status of the environmental field in relation Among them might be mentioned such structures

to the organism.

Ch.

UNDERSTANDING COMPLEX BEHAVIOR

i]

ii

which appear to inform the organism of its and the kinesthetic receptors, which seem to give information on the position of parts of the body with relation to its major axis. Vision and hearing, which inform as the semicircular canals,

position in relation to the environment,

the organism of events taking place outside the skin, may be placed in a second group, along with the receptors for pain, pressure, cold,

warmth,

etc.

But

it is

interesting to speculate

how

relatively

much

more adequate are these distance and contact receptors for detecting objects and relationships between objects organized in space than they are for informing the organism about the state of affairs (motivation, feelings, attitudes, etc.) existing in a dynamic stimulus object like

another organism.

There is little need here to go into a technical presentation of the range and acuity limits or intrinsic functioning of these receptor In the effort to discover the nature of mental functioning

systems.

by the process of studying the detection equipment, psychology and physiology have provided somewhat adequate descriptions of the characteristics of sensory organs.

The

point here

is

the realization

that the receptor systems are able to provide the central nervous sys-

tem with itself

restricted clues or signals to events within the

organism

as well as to provide cues about the events external to

it.

The

more important consideration in the frame of reference given here will be with the manner in which the central nervous system utilizes It is the

the clues thus furnished.

organization of these integrative

mechanisms which constitutes the ultimate focus in the study of personality. In this regard, the works of Kohler (15) and Koffka (14) and the more recent ones that Krech (16) and Hebb (9) have provided furnish important theoretical formulations concerned with the nature of such organization.

Up

to this point the discussion has been limited to the intrinsic

properties of the central nervous system, that esses of

is,

which the human central nervous system

the inherent proc-

in general

—although the

actual total functioning of the individual

much a product

of the unique experiential fields through

passed and in which

it

is

presently located as

function or inherent capacity of the system

it is

is

capable

is

also as

which

it

has

of the intrinsic

itself.

As

has been mentioned earlier, it would appear that the course of development has, broadly speaking, involved the acquisition by organisms of structures that make possible the perception and integration

more varied and potentially richer environmental detail. Along with increasingly refined receptors has come the greater capacity for central integration of stimulus cues, which is currently epitomized in of

the comparatively great encephalization of man.

Since the reactions

PERCEPTION—AN APPROACH TO PERSONALITY

12

[Ch.

i

an organism to a stimulus field depend upon the way in which the organism defines that stimulus configuration, the evolution of more efficient equipment for differentiating and integrating the saliences in a stimulus mosaic is accompanied by (and probably contingent upon [33, 36]) finer differentiations and articulations of reaction. Thus organisms may be said to be evolving in the direction of greater reof

ceptor acuity, better perceptive integration, and, hence, greater capacity for

differentiation of response.

In

man

the great evolutional

which has taken place makes possible the more effective incorporation within the nervous system of these stimulus definitions for use in subsequent definitions and actions. saltation in integrative capacity

y ( I



Anatomical Factors. This, then, is the role of the central nervous system in perception, as viewed here. Each normal individual is endowed with a comparatively highly evolved central nervous system having "intrinsic functions" qualitatively about the same as those of other individuals.

From

birth this

endowed perceptive apparatus

is

by each stimulus definition it makes. The physical perceptive structure itself is altered and hence is set to perceive in a slightly different way. Thus, in the language of William James, \ Morgan, experience is literally written into the nervous system ( 10) in Chapter 2 of the present volume, examines the basic machinery by which "experience" is incorporated into the nervous system. Here he slightly modified

.

addresses himself to the question of what the sense organs are

like,

how

how

the sensory systems of the

body are built and function, and

the brain works in perception.

He

ful lines of research at this level

which

also points to the probable fruitwill enrich future understand-

ing of the intrinsic properties of perceiving systems.

Strongly influencing the perceptual activity of the system are the contributing body structures mentioned earlier.

Structures such as

and muscular systems operate to place the organism in optimal positions to perceive, and the digestive, circulatory, and resthe skeletal

piratory systems serve to maintain the physical integrity of the per-

ceiving system; the sympathetic nervous system and the glandular

systems appear to function to sharpen perception and to heighten reaction in emergencies.

Chemical Factors. to perceptual activity

function.

Their

—The

crucial contribution of these structures

becomes most apparent

effect,

in cases of their mal-

for example, can be seen in cases of both

quantitative and qualitative dietary deficiencies, of oxygen lack, of hormonal imbalances, and of the effects of drugs. The role of these structures in normal perceptual activity also becomes evident in cases of the destruction of tissue, in various forms of disease, and as a result

Ch.

UNDERSTANDING COMPLEX BEHAVIOR

i]

13

body structures. In discussing these Beach develops a threefold approach to the problem. First, he surveys "the various types of evidence that demonstrate the existence of relationships between particular alterations in body chemistry and specific changes in behavior. The second aim is of injury or insult to various relationships in Chapter 3,

to discuss

The

and evaluate possible explanations for these relationships. is to explore the major questions confronting in the field and to determine, if possible, what procedures

third objective

specialists

are most likely to provide us with solutions to these problems"

(page 57).

Experiential Determinants of Perceptual Activity

draw attention and limitations of detection and integration which are imposed on the human organism by its structure and organization. The discussion that follows attempts to show some of the ways in which experiences in the stimulus field direct the utilization of these

The

discussion to this point has been designed to

to the range

structures in perceiving.

We have considered the structural determinants of perception as though the perceiving system were completely divorced from the unique environment and the events which are experienced by a given organism. It is necessary now to consider the interactive results from the long and continuous process of socialization which characterizes each individual organism and which results in the modifications of structure and consequently of functioning that are attributable to To

understand the perceptual characteristics that deterby an individual, attention must be given to the contribution made by the physical-cultural media through which he has passed. Experiences within these areas determine the unique utilization of perceptive equipment and thereby produce reexperience.

mine the

definitions given

active tendencies

The Role

which serve as a basis for the evolution of

of Learning in Perception

—The

problem of

"self."

how

the

events occurring in the individual's stimulus fields are incorporated into the

organism is essentially the question of the role of learning These matters are discussed in Chapter 4 by Hilgard,

in perception.

who

states,

The

older question about the role of learning in perception had to do with

the nativism-empiricism problem.

To what

extent

is

perception natively given

by way of our inherited structures and capacities, and to what extent is it the result of our experiences with the world of objects? But a new question is now being asked about the reciprocal relationship between learning and perception.

This new and contemporary question

is

:

To what

extent

is

learning

:

PERCEPTION—AN APPROACH TO PERSONALITY

14

merely reorganized perception?

We

question and the contemporary one

[Ch.

i

shall

have to deal with both the older

we

are to keep our thinking straight

if

about both learning and perception (page 95).

Hilgard goes on to direct attention to what he perception



these

two goals

of perception,

first,

calls

to

the goals of

have our per-

ceptions keep the world about us a stable one and, second, to achieve definiteness in what we perceive, may be accepted as valid without



committing ourselves as to their origin and to discuss the ways in which perceptual achievements come about. In concluding his chapter he points out that, "The end result is, on the one hand, a world in which we feel at home because we know what to expect, and what we expect does not disagree too much with what we want. But, on the other hand, the world may be a capricious and terrifying place, where all that we do is uncertain and dangerous, where we do not learn what to expect, where what we find is never satisfying" (page 119).

A

Theory of Perception.

of learning in perception

we

—With

these remarks about the nature

return to a consideration of the individual

and the manner in which units of knowledge about the world are gained. In an earlier section, where we discussed the way in which scientific inferences are drawn, we indicated that the understanding of "reality" thus achieved has by comparison rendered untrustworthy the data of experience given through raw sense perceptions. But at the same time it was pointed out that individual knowledge is knowledge achieved in consequence of the same kind of raw sense perceptions which have been abandoned by the scientist because they yield information which is too crude and too inaccurate for acceptance within the bounds of scientifically valid inference. However, in the present frame of reference we are not concerned with the manner in which the scientist comes to infer the nature of reality rather, the central question is concerned with the manner in which the individual comes to know the world. The question then points to the need for a theory of perception. In Chapter 5 Bruner presents the outline of such a theory. The steps through which a perceiver translates a





;

stimulus configuration into a perceptual unit are generalized in the

following quotation from Bruner' s paper Basically, perceiving involves a three-step cycle.

Analytically,

that perceiving begins with an expectancy or hypothesis.

is

to

say

, we not only see, but we look for, not only hear but listen In short, perceiving takes place in a "tuned organism." The assumption

Woodworth to.

we may

In the language of

.

.

.

we are never randomly set or eingesteUt but that, rather, we are always some extent prepared for seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting some particular

that

Ch.

UNDERSTANDING COMPLEX BEHAVIOR

i]

15

What evokes an hypothesis ? Any given hypothesis from the arousal of central cognitive and motivational processes by

thing or class of things. results

preceding environmental states of

The second

affairs.

analytic step in the perceiving process

is

the input of informa-

from the environment (which environment includes the stimulus complex brought to us by distance receptors and by the somatic senses). Here we purtion

posely use the term information to characterize stimulus input, for

we

are not

concerned with the energy characteristic of the stimulus as such but only with its

cue or clue characteristics.

The

third step in the cycle

information it

is

is

is

a checking or confirmation procedure.

Input

confirmatory to or congruent with the operative hypothesis, or

in varying degree infirming or incongruous.

If confirmation does not

occur, the hypothesis shifts in a direction partly determined by internal or

personological or experiential factors and partly on the basis of feedback from the learning which occurred in the immediately preceding, partly unsuccessful

information-checking cycle.

For

heuristic purposes

we

speak of

initial

and

consequent hypotheses, the latter being those which follow upon an infirmed (pages 123-24).

hypothesis

Having pret

much

outlined this theoretical position, Bruner goes on to inter-

them the manner relate

and to dynamics to suggest

of the recent research in perception into these terms to a broad conception of personality

;

which personality dynamics may serve to set the selection of information from the environment and, consequently, to determine important aspects of adjustment. in

Cultural Determinants of Perception

—With

the outline of a

it becomes important to consider the ingredients of culture which mold and determine the set or hypothesis

theory of perception before us,

any moment of interaction. As L. K. Frank (8) "In every culture the individual is of necessity 'cribbed,

of the perceiver at indicates,

cabinned, and confined' within the limitations of

what

him

To

his culture tells

understand what an individual defines into the stimulus configurations to which he reacts, then, we must first have some understanding of the residual effects from the physical and cultural media through which he has to see, to believe, to do,

and to

feel.

.

.

."

and of the consequent present modifications in reactive tendwhich constitute the self. At the outset it is desirable to provide an indication of the manner which the term culture is being used here. Linton (20) has given

passed, encies

in

"A culture is the configuration of learned behavior and results of behavior whose component elements are shared and transmitted by the members of a particular society." This

the following definition:

conception, while useful in the general study of personality, does not

supply the specificity required for an understanding of individual be-

PERCEPTION—AN APPROACH TO PERSONALITY

i6

havior, since the "culture"

is

it.

A

i

way to who exist

represented in a very different

the different groups and, consequently, to the individuals

within

[Ch.

thorough study of individuals

uptown

in

New York

City will not suffice to understand the behavior of individuals in the

Mormon community

of Salt

Chicago, or in rural Indiana

Lake

City, or of those in the

—although

slums of

in a certain sense all

may

be

same culture, and all will probably participate in kinds of responses which have been achieved through common

said to "possess" the certain

cultural transmission.

For the purpose of

this

scheme, therefore,

we

will

make an

arbi-

trary distinction between culture-in-general and culture-in-particular.

In speaking of the experiential determinants of perceptual activity, we will refer to the first of these as the general cultural determinants and to the second as the specific cultural determinants. In contrast with the former, the specific cultural determinants may be defined then,

and continuously developing stimulus configurations within the general culture to which the individual is exposed during as the unique

no counterpart in reality we by this construct is that the definitions of stimulus configurations which a specific individual makes are determined not only by the general cultural but also by the specific stimulus fields within which the individual is situated from a developmental and social standpoint. For example, the general cul-

That such a

his lifetime.

fully realize.

ture of the

The

Dobu

idea

sets

distinction has

we wish

to impart

parameters of acceptable (to the culture) per-

from those of the Western culture of, Each general culture offers a peculiarly refracted version of possible perceptual definitions and the combinations and permutations of the specific components of stimulus configurations that may be composed from it are almost infinite. But these constitute the environment for any specific individual. In Chapter 6 Dennis develops the evidence which is of importance for an understanding of the social factors that operate to determine perceptual activity. He does this on the basis of intercultural comparisons and from the standpoint of a horizontal and developmental analysis of determinants within our own culture, as well as from the ceptual interactions different say, a citizen of

Boston (2).

point of view of segments within

Many

of the approaches

it.

As Dennis

indicates.

which have contributed most

to the study of social

factors in perception are usually classified under other headings.

suggestion, including hypnotism,^ have tions of emotional expression

as well as

throw

light

several contributions.

upon

upon emotion. Projective techniques,

ception as well as with personality. torical

made

Studies of Investiga-

social influences in perception

of course,

Some important

must deal with per-

lines of evidence are his-

and anthropological rather than experimental. In reviewing studies of

Ch.

UNDERSTANDING COMPLEX BEHAVIOR

i]

17

draw upon sources such which our books on perception seldom make reference (pages 148-

social factors in perception, the writer will feel free to

as these, to

49).

Language and Perception. a logical sequence

determinants ual.



is

—Following

the analysis by Dennis in

a survey of one of the most obvious of the cultural

the language used by the perceiving group or individ-

As Whorf (35) and

other linguists have pointed out,

we

"cut

up and organize the spread and flow of events" as we do because, through our mother tongue, we are parties to an agreement to do so, itself is thus compartmentalized for all to see. Thus, the Chukchee do not distinguish at the verbal level between blue and green (grass color) or the Trobrianders between blue and green (sea color) (21). The Eskimo, on the other hand, who has names for a dozen varieties of snow surface and formation, must "see" a landscape different from the one that meets the eye of a European traveler in the Arctic (6). In an investigation of the determinants of perception, then, it is necessary to consider macrocosmic "endowments" of culture-in-general, such as language, as well as specific the components of institutions, mores, socioeconomic factors, etc. culture-in-particular.® As has been obvious for a considerable period of time, the techniques of communication, because they are structured

not because nature



and conseKorzybski analyzes the role of language in structuring perceptual activity in Chapter 7. The following quotation defines the basic issue which he develops in themselves,

seem

to structure the nature of experience,

quently of perception,

:

Let us consider what our nervous system does when we "perceive" a happening or event. The term "event" is used here in the sense of Whitehead as an instantaneous cross-section of a process. Say we drop a box of matches.

Here we have a

first-order happening,

which occurs on nonverbal or what

called the "silent" or "un-speakable" levels.

The

reflected light impinges

is

on

since

we get some sort of electro-colloidal configurations in the brain then, we are sentient organisms, we can react to those configurations with

some

sort of "feelings,"

the eye,

;

some evaluations, etc., about them, on "silent" levels. on the verbal levels, we can speak about those organismal reactions. Newton may have said, about the falling matchbox, "gravitation"; Einstein Finally,

^ A delightful example of the unique way in which an individual acquires language and of what effects this may have upon perception is furnished in an observation by Schlauch (27) of "a little girl who, having recently learned to read, was spelling out

a political article in the newspaper. 'Father,' she asked, 'what is Tammany Hall?' And father replied in the voice usually reserved for the taboos of social communication, 'You'll understand that when you grow up, my dear.' Acceding to this adult whim of evasion, she desisted from her inquiries but something in Daddy's tone had convinced her that Tammany Hall must be connected with illicit amour, and for many years she could not hear this political institution mentioned without experiencing a secret nonpolitical thrill !" Margaret Schlauch, The Gift of Tongues, The Viking Press, 1942. By permission of The Viking Press. ;

PERCEPTION—AN APPROACH TO PERSONALITY

i8

may

Whatever we may say about

say, "space-time curvature."

it,

[Ch. the

i

first-

order happening remains on the silent levels. How we will talk about it may differ from day to day, or from year to year, or century to century. All our "feelings," "thinkings," our "loves," "hates," etc., happen on silent un-speakable levels, but may be affected by the verbal levels by a continuing interplay.

We may verbalize about them, to etc., but this

is

ourselves or others, intensify, decrease them,

a different problem (page 172).

In speaking of cultural and developmental determinants of the kind that are dealt with by Dennis and Korzybski, we refer to indirect determinants, because they influence perception only in so far as they are responsible for the peculiar modifications that characterize the perceiver at the moment of perception. The immediate objective situation supplies only a stimulus to perception.

The

selective accentua-

and deletions and, consequently, the meanings given to the situation are provided by the perceiver. Yet the situations within which the perceiver has interacted in the past determine

tions, modifications,

how

he is set in the present to define the next stimulus situation, so they in turn must be taken into consideration in the prediction of the

outcome of future perceptions. Thus the description of socialization is of critical importance to an understanding of perceptual behavior.



The Individual as a Perceiver In an earlier section we had occasion to refer to the central nervous system in broad terms in reference to its intrinsic function as an integrator mechanism.

We

return to

it

now, not from the standpoint of inherent structure, but

rather from the standpoint of the modifications of functional characteristics which are stamped into it as a result of the interactive

processes constituting socialization. interactions

and

ceiving individual in which If

It is the

end product of these

the consequent structural modifications in the per-

we

are interested.

one were to try to identify for discussion one of the most im-

portant aspects of interactive activities from the standpoint of the significance of their lasting effects on the perceiver, it is likely that the interpersonal actions that go on between individuals and their consequences in reference to the development of the self system or

would be among those selected for analysis. While these most important determinants are among the latest to yield to conceptual analysis and while they are only beginning to be stable conceptual sets

subjected to experimental study, the development of a theoretical for-

mulation in this connection brenner.

He

men.

undertaken in Chapter 8 by Bronfen-

we are concerned primarily with the work of In addition to Freud and Lewin, these include Otto Rank, William

In the discussion to follow five

is

indicates that,

Ch.

UNDERSTANDING COMPLEX BEHAVIOR

i]

19

McDougall, and Harry Stack Sullivan. Since it is manifestly impossible to deal with the major contributions of each in their entirety, it will be necessary to restrict discussion to those aspects which appear most significant for an attempt at theoretical integration.

In this connection

it

appears important to

note not only points that are critical for or consonant with a general theory but also those that are strikingly incompatible or leave crucial questions

swered.

Even with

material thus confined,

condensation and, in

many

it

unan-

will be necessary to resort to

instances, to forgo elaboration or

example that

might otherwise illuminate the discussion (page 210).

Having reviewed

the communalties and divergencies in the writ-

ings about personality organization by these five men, Bronfenbrenner

summarizes the

and persistent ideas about the development two heads personality structure and personality development. These ideas, which represent the rich harvest from clinical study and research analysis, constitute the basis for the future development of a systematic theory of the individual as an active and reactive perceiver. The papers by Dennis, Korzybski, and Bronfenbrenner relate to the social and cultural, linguistic and personal determinants which contribute to the development of individual patterns of behavior and the emergence of the self and which, therefore, serve to guide the form of the reactions the individual makes to the world. The understanding of behavior variations among members of any specific culture or cultural group would be grossly inadequate if these kinds of experiential determining factors were to be ignored. significant

of the self system into a series of propositions under the



Unconscious Perceptual Processes. But it is obvious that the knowledge of the world can never be complete, that it can never achieve a universal validity, and that sometimes it does not even achieve a minimal basis of adequacy for effective action. It is also clear that, in much of the process of living, action is mandatory; individual's

it

cannot be held in abeyance until veridical understanding of the The new question then is this In

stimulus situation has crystallized.

:

those situations in which action

is

conscious factors in perce°ption.

He

mandatory but information on which to base action is inadequate or nil, what is the course of behavior that leads to resolution? What form of determinant can be invoked to help clarify an understanding of this kind of behavior? This problem is taken up in Chapter 9 by Miller, who deals with unignorance

and he

—how the

considers "the psychology of

individual deals with gaps in his knowledge,"

says.

Throughout our discussion we shall repeatedly refer to material presented in earlier chapters of this symposium. This is because unconscious factors in perception have already been abundantly illustrated to the reader, since a num-

PERCEPTION—AN APPROACH TO PERSONALITY

20

[Ch.

ber of the processes which have been described are clearly unconscious. present writer hopes to be able to organize

which

will

throw

light

some

i

The

of these data into a pattern

on our particular problem (page 260).

Having marshaled the evidence concerned with the operation of unconscious factors in perception, Miller concludes, Mankind, weak and limited in his power and knowledge, surrounded by is doing an effective job of adjusting to his environment. But our reason is beginning to show us that the chief explanation for this effectiveness, the primary principle behind our perceptual processes, conscious and unconscious, is not deductive rationality but the inductive process ignorance, nevertheless

of irrational belief (page 279).



Behavior Pathology as Related to Perception While mankind from an over-all point of view be doing an effective job of

may





adjusting to his environment,

it

many

field of

The

is

nonetheless true that there are

behavior pathology stands as testimony of the breakdown in adjustive mechanisms in modern society. But what is the relevance of considering behavior pathology in a symposium on perception? In Chapter 10 Cameron takes up this glaring exceptions.

issue as his point of departure.

He

says,

were to attempt to relate perceptual organization to the whole behavior pathology in a single chapter, the reader would quickly be-

If the writer field of

come confused and the writer would get lost. what is directly relevant in

the discussion to

We

propose, instead, to confine

delusional development

and the

Since the principle of continuity is basic begin by restating it here All the attitudes and

formation of pseudocommunities. to this presentation,

we may

:

responses found in behavior pathology are in some

from normal

hiosocial behavior.

implies that the yield

we may

...

If this is

way

related to

and derived

a valid principle, of course,

it

expect from the present resurgence of interest

in perception will contribute directly or indirectly to our understanding of

pathological

phenomena (pages 283-84).

Building on several of the earlier formulations, Cameron relates perceptual theory to delusion formulation by examining broad correlations between the perceptual activity underlying normal behavior and that underlying behavior pathology. In this chapter are presented many testable propositions which may serve as the foundation for an essentially new and potentially rich experimental approach to the whole field of behavior deviation.

The Role

of Perception in Psychotherapy.



Carrying the prinpsychotherapy is a process ciple of continuity further, it follows that which changes or reorganizes the interactions between the individual and his environment. It involves the achievement by the individual of

more accurate and adequate techniques

of

"knowing" the environ-

:

:

Ch.

UNDERSTANDING COMPLEX BEHAVIOR

i]

ment and the self in relation to it. Rogers introduces theme in Chapter 1 1 by indicating that

21

this conceptual

In talking about the process and outcomes of psychotherapy, a descriptive phrase which

is

the client has

come

frequently used by the client as well as the therapist "to see things differently."

a loose descriptive analogy, or

which takes place

in therapy

the available evidence

which

?

is

some type

there

In this chapter,

is

that

Is this sort of phrase simply

of perceptual reorganization

we

endeavor to consider

shall

exists in relation to this problem, touching

on the

changes which come about in the perception of the envirormient and of the self, and proposing a theory of psychotherapy which places heavy emphasis upon the perceptual elements in the process (page 307).

Drawing on both clinical and experimental data and presenting the from a new procedure for measuring changes in self-

early results

Rogers examines a broad range of evidence and securely changes that occur in conjunction with psychotherapy to perceptual theory. This reduction of superficially disparate phenomena to a common core may prove to be important in facilitating the develevaluation,

ties the

opment of a

body of

verified

fact

about the nature of the therapeutic

experience.

The treatment by Rogers

focuses attention not only on the

raw

data of immediate experience but also on the significance of the learnings brought to

its interpretation. This emphasis accentuates the importance in accounting for perceptual activity of understanding the over-all organization by the person of his techniques for handling raw

data.

It points to the

need for laws of perceivers, rather than for laws

of perception.



Perception and Individual Organization. Klein develops in Chapter 12 an approach to the problem of understanding the person's organization through investigating his perceptual activity. He expresses his viewpoint by saying I

think I

am

interpreting correctly the spirit of this

say that our focus upon perception that perception

Our

target

is

is

symposium when

I

secondary to an interest in persons,

for us only a convenient

wedge

into this larger problem.

a theory which would lead to laws of perceivers, not laws

of perception, a theory

generalized

is

as with linking

which would be not so much concerned with linking

conditions or states of motivation to perception in general

field

them

to the organization of people.

.

.

.

Perception

point of reality contact, the door to reality appraisal, and there

here especially are the selective,

is

the

no doubt that adaptive controls of personality brought into is

play (page 328).

Having

defined the problem in this way, Klein goes on to describe

three basic perceptual attitudes, to relate a

body of research findings

:

PERCEPTION—AN APPROACH TO PERSONALITY

22

[Ch.

i

from studies conducted at the Menninger Foundation to them, and to develop a core outline through which to represent the idea of an ego control system. Personality Theory and Perception. ceptual research to the

more

inclusive

—The task

of relating per-

body of concepts and

principles

about the organization of personality is undertaken in Chapter 1 3 by Frenkel-Brunswik. She lays a foundation upon which a rapproche-

ment between these hitherto more or

less disparate areas

may

take

place by saying Instead of making perception the starting point, as has been the case in the introductory considerations by Blake, Ramsey, and

Moran

(

Chapter

and

1 )

in

the symposium as a whole, the present writer will reverse the order and take the development of and changes within personality theory as the point of de-

parture for this Chapter.

The

writer will then attempt to indicate

how

this

development has served as a basis for bridging over into the field of perception Some attention to problems of motivation, ego structure, and reality adaptation, as well as to

precede

all this,

problems of social influences upon personality, will have to

upon which any personality

since they define the elements

Previously in this symposium, especially in the papers by

theory must draw.

Blake (Chapter 1), Bruner (Chapter 5), and Cameron (Chapter 10), these elements have been traced throughout their interweavings with perception.

The

general plan of procedure here will be to discuss them

the clinical level and then to apply

them

first in

to the empirical findings

relation to

on the

inter-

relationship of personality with perception and cognition (page 356).

After interrelating these two bodies of data, Frenkel-Brunswik draws her conclusions by pointing to the implications of this broad

She

development within psychology for further research. Thus

it

states:

would seem that the most promising avenue of approach should be

the one which combines emphasis on general personality variables, both motivational and cognitive, with an emphasis on developmental aspects.

event there can be

little

doubt that this

is

In any

a most challenging period in psychol-

ogy, a fact to which this symposium has given eloquent testimony (page 417).

BIBLIOGRAPHY 1.

Barnett, L. K.

The universe and Dr.

Einstein.

New York

:

William Sloane

Associates, Inc., 1949. 2.

Benedict, Ruth.

Patterns of culture.

New

York: The American Library,

1934. 4.

Boring, E. G. Mind and mechanism. Amer. J. Psychol., 1946, 59, 173-92. Cantril, H., Ames, A., Jr., Hastorf, A. H., & Ittelson, W. H. Psychology

5.

and CouTU,

3.

scientific research.

Science, 1949, 110, 461-64, 491-97, 517-22. nature. New York: Alfred A. Knopf,

W. Emergent human

Inc.,

1949. 6.

De Laguna, guage

of

Grace.

Perception and language.

wisdom and

folly.

New

Lee

In

I.

J.

York: Harper

&

Bros., 1949.

(ed.).

The

lan-

::

Ch.

UNDERSTANDING COMPLEX BEHAVIOR

i]

8.

& Bentley, A. F. J., Beacon Press, 1949. Frank, L. K. Society as the

9.

University Press, 1949. Hebb, D. O. The organisation of behavior.

7.

Dewey,

James,

W.

12.

New

known.

N.

Brunswick,

New York

Rutgers

J.:

John Wiley

:

The

Boston:

&

Sons,

The

New York Henry

principles of psychology.

Holt

:

&

Co., Inc.,

Vol. II.

1890. 11.

patient.

the

1949.

Inc., 10.

Knowing and

23

Kantor, J. R. A survey of the science of psychology. Bloomington, Ind. The Principia Press, Inc., 1933. Kantor, J. R. Psychology and logic. Bloomington, Ind. The Principia Press, :

Inc., 1945.

13.

Klein, G. /.

14.

&

S.,

Schlesinger, H.

Where

is

the perceiver in perceptual theory ?

Personal., 1949, 18, 32-47.

KoFFKA, K.

New York

Principles of gestalt psychology.

:

Harcourt, Brace

&

Co., Inc., 1935. 15.

W. Dynamics

Kohler,

in

psychology.

New

York: Liveright

Publishing

Corp., 1940. 16.

Krech, D.

17.

KJRECH, D.,

18.

New York McGraw-Hill Book Co., Inc., 1948. Lawrence, M. Studies in human behavior. Princeton, N.

Notes toward a psychological theory. /. Personal., 1949, 18, 66-87. Crutchfield, R. S. Theory and problems of social psychology.

&

:

J.

:

Princeton Uni-

versity Press, 1949. 19.

Lewin, K.

a

dynamic theory

New York McGraw-Hill Book

of personality.

:

Co., Inc., 1935. 20.

Linton, R.

The

cultural

background

of personality.

New

York: Appleton-

Century-Crofts, Inc., 1945. The problem of meaning in primitive languages. Supple21. Malinowski, B. ment in E. K. Ogden & I. A. Richards. The meaning of meaning. New York Harcourt, Brace & Co., Inc., 1948. Principles of dynamic psychiatry. Philadelphia: W. B. 22. Masserman, J. H. :

Saunders Co., 1946. G. Personality: a biosocial approach

23.

Murphy,

24.

York: Harper & Bros., 1947. Parsons, Sir J. H. An introduction The Macmillan Co., 1927.

25.

Pratt, C. C.

The

to the

to origins

New

and structure.

theory of perception.

role of past experience in visual perception.

/.

New York

Psychol., 1950,

30, 85-107. 26.

Riesen, a. H.

The development

of visual perception in

man and

chimpanzee.

Science, 1947, 106, 107-8. 27.

ScHLAUCH, Margaret.

The

gift of tongues.

New

York: The Viking Press,

Inc., 1942.

28.

Senden, M. V. Raum- und Gestaltauffassung bei operierten Blindgeborenen vor und nach der Operation. Leipzig J. A. Barth, 1932. Sherif, M., & Cantril, H. The psychology of ego involvement. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1947. Snygg, D., & Combs, A. W. Individual behavior. New York Harper & Bros., :

29.

30.

:

1949.

32.

Sullivan, H. S. Conceptions of modern psychiatry. Washington, D. C. The William Alanson White Psychiatric Foundation, 1947. Titchener, E. B. A beginner's psychology. New York: The Macmillan Co.,

33.

Werner,

31.

:

1917.

H.,

& Wapner,

S.

Sensory-tonic

field

theory of perception.

/.

Per-

sonal., 1949, 18, 88-107. 34.

White, L. A. 1949.

The

science of culture.

New York

:

Farrar, Straus

&

Co., Inc.,

24

PERCEPTION—AN APPROACH TO PERSONALITY

35.

Whorf,

Z6.

WooDWORTH, R.

B. L. Science 229-31, 247-48. S.

and

linguistics.

The Technology Review,

Reinforcement of perception.

Amer.

J.

[Ch. 1940,

i

42,

Psychol., 1947, 60,

119-24. Z7.

WuNDT, W. Ltd., 1912.

Introduction to psychology.

London: George Allen

&

Unwin,

CHAPTER

2

SOME STRUCTURAL FACTORS IN PERCEPTION By Clifford T. Morgan, Ph.D.

The central purpose of this symposium is to look at personality from the point of view of perception. Most of the symposium deals with the way in which experience modifies perception, for the experiential determinants of perception are of greatest interest and importance to us in dealing with personality. substrate in structure.

We

gans and nervous system



Perception, however, has

can only see and

let

us sense.

feel

what our sense

its

or-

It is natural, therefore, that



should deal the first on determinants of perception with anatomical and structural factors in perception. Much of the chapter will say very little about perception and personality, for that is the task of later chapters. It will, however, provide a background this chapter

of the facts

and present conception of how physiological structures

function in perception.

In setting out on this task there

many

is

obviously no point in repeating

anatomy, physiology, and psychology that can be found in the various textbooks. In fact, acquaintance with the basic physics of stimuli, the anatomy of our sense organs, and the neurology of sensory systems must be assumed. Having these fundamentals in mind, however, it is possible to work toward two goals in this the

details of

chapter.

One search.

is

to bring the discussion

Many

new views The second

take

whole. retina, ofif

a

up to date on the

results of recent re-

of these results really upset our old ideas of the

anatomy

and make us

of perception.

goal will be to look at perceptual mechanisms as a

When we

study some one part of a sensory system, say the woods for the trees." If we stand however, and look at all the senses together, we begin to

we

bit,

often "cannot see the

make some general rules and principles about the mechanisms of perception. That will be attempted in this chapter at the risk sometimes of suggesting ideas that not everyone will agree with. be able to



25

A

m

Rod ;



1. Rods and cones found in the eyes of different vertebrates. A, the leopard B, the house sparrow ; C, m^h J and D, the mud puppy. 1, typical cones ; 2, so-

Fig.

frog

26

STRUCTURAL FACTORS IN PERCEPTION

Ch. 2]

The

27

Qualities o£ Experience

We see with our eyes,

hear with our ears, and feel with our skins, obvious in each case that the structure of the sense organ has a lot to do with what we perceive through it. More than a hundred years ago, however, Miiller carried the anatomical approach far be-

and

it is

yond the obvious and gave us

his

now famous

doctrine of specific

We

nerve energies. see red or blue, hear high tones or low tones, feel pain or heat, he said, only because each of these perceptions involves different sensory paths. Thus he gave us an anatomical explanation for qualities of experience.

Hardly any suggestion could have been taken so seriously by so

many

persons for so

many

years.

Even today some

physiologists

and try to prove other notions by it. Many specific theories of sensory functions have been based upon it, and a good many of them have been wrong. Miiller's general idea, however, still looks like a good one. We have simply had to revise again and again our specific notions of how the idea works in practice. take

it

as an axiom, rather than a hypothesis,



The Shape

of Receptors. Take the question of structure of rewould have been very handy not only for Miiller's doctrine to prove right but for every receptor to have some unusual shape or color that would let us tell it from other receptors for other experiences. Our wishful thinking on this score has made us waste a lot of research time and peddle some bad notions. They tell us in the elementary textbooks, for example, that we have two kinds of receptors in our eyes, one for twilight vision and the other for color vision. We ceptors.

It

have been taught, too, that there are different kinds of receptors for skin perception Meissner corpuscles for touch, Krause end-bulbs for cold, Ruffini cylinders for warmth, and free nerve endings for pain (2, pp. 489-501 ). It would indeed be nice if anatomy were that good to us but if each receptor had its trade-mark of experience on it we are gradually learning to be wary of such notions.







Visual Receptors. Take as an example the matter of visual recep-

In Figure

you

drawings of the photoreceptors of four In A are those of the frog, and they divide themselves fairly well into cones and rods, just as the classical doctrine says they should. In B are the rods and cones of tors.

1

see

different vertebrate animals (46).

called twin cone; 3, typical red rod; 4, green rod; 5, rod from the central area; 6, cones from different regions of the periphery of the retina; and 7, cone from the fovea. (Based on work of L. B. Arey and of G. L. Walls. From E. N. Willmer, Retinal structure and colour vision [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1946], p. 2. By permission of the publisher.)

PERCEPTION—AN APPROACH TO PERSONALITY

28

[Ch. 2

the house sparrow.

Again they look somewhat as they are supposed but the rods look something like cones and the cones look like rods. In C we meet a disturbing situation, for these are the receptors of

to,

man. Many of the cones from the peripheral retina look like cones and the rods look like rods, but notice what is supposed to be a cone from the fovea centralis the all-cone area of our fovea. It outdoes



the rods in being long, cylindrical, and rodlike. calling

it

a cone.

a cone

The

best excuse for

that our theory of duplicity says that

is

Anatomy

it

should be

certainly does not justify the label.

These are just a few examples of the problem. There are other it is hard to make out rods and cones. In some cases, like that of the lizard Gecko, the animal seems to have all rods in its eye, yet reacts to visual objects as though it had only cones (7). In other cases, histologists have a hard time deciding whether there are any cones in an animal's eye, when electrical records of the eye's animals in which

make it quite certain that "cones" are there (15, 46). some vision scientists have reason to believe that our perception of the color blue may rest not upon the cones, as we have so long thought, but rather upon some kind of rod (19, 46). So the duplicity theory seems to be passing on toward its death. behavior Finally,

gave us a kind of anatomical explanation for one aspect of percepwhich would have been very nice if true. Indeed, we may even go on teaching students this theory for years to come as a sort of It

tion

teaching device that

may

be partly true.

not true enough, how-

It is

depend on to make correct guesses about perception. We cannot tell about the color perception of an animal by the looks of the ever, to

receptors in

its eyes.

We

Skin Receptors. the skin senses. tologists

are being even more rudely disappointed by In Figure 2 are some of the receptors that the his-

have found

in the skin

The

(9, p. 3).

physiologists

and

psychologists used to assign these receptors to different experiences.

Some

in fact

still

do.

The common scheme

to assign the Meissner

is

corpuscle to the experience of touch or pressure, the Krause end-bulb

warmth, and the free nerve ending to scheme is that one kind of receptor seems to be in greater numbers in regions of the skin where one experience may be more prominent. Other arguments can and have to cold, the Ruffini cylinder to pain.

The reason

for this kind of

been made with great vigor.

The only

trouble

—and

the big trouble



is

that these receptors are

not always present where they ought to be (13). It is, of course, a simple matter to make a map of the skin, marking just where we feel various experiences.

When a spot seems

to give one experience

more than another, we can do a biopsy on the

spot, that

is,

much

cut out a

;

STRUCTURAL FACTORS IN PERCEPTION

Ch. 2]

29

and see what receptors we have been able to trap. Such experiments have often been done in the last seventy years, and the result all too often is that the receptors our anatomical scheme calls for are missing. We do not always find Meissner corpuscles under pressure spots, Krause end-bulbs under cold spots, and so on. We can swear in fact that they very often are not there (13, 22). piece of skin



Principal cutaneous receptors. A, free nerve endings from the cornea of Fig. 2. the eye B, Merkel's cells from the snout of the pig C, Meissner's tactile corpuscle D, basket ending at the base of a hair follicle E, Krause end-bulb from the human conjunctiva; F, Golgi-Mazzoni corpuscle from the human skin. (From J. F. Fulton, Physiology of the nervous system [2d ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1943]. Copyright 1943 by Oxford University Press, Inc. By permission of the publishers.) ;

;

;

;

What

always do find when they make biopsies is a netand blood vessels (13). This is not strange, of course, because our skin needs blood and so do the nerve fibers. Nerve fibers are also needed to control the dilation and contraction of blood vessels. More than that, however, these networks obviously supply the skin with a good many free nerve endings. These endings, in fact, are about the only possible receptors in many areas of the skin. We can be very sure that they serve as pain receptors and as pressure receptors. The experiments leave little doubt about that. They strongly suggest, too, even if they do not prove, that we can experience cold and warmth with free nerve endings. Perhaps some of the fancier corpuscles also get involved in our experiences of touch and

work

scientists

of nerve fibers

temperature, but they are certainly not the sole receptors.

PERCEPTION—AN APPROACH TO PERSONALITY

30

[Ch. 2

We

should not get into too many details here. The upshot of the matter is that one cannot tell much about perception from the anatomy free nerve ending is just as likely to give of receptors in the skin. one kind of experience as another. The beautifully designed cor-

A

Krause bodies do not stand for a would have been very nice in fact, it would if each receptor in the skin had a different

puscles such as the Meissner or particular experience.

often be very helpful function.

Alas,

it



is

not

so.

The Receptors as Analyzers. wear uniforms that tell us their Which receptor The differences



It

—Even though

gets stimulated could in receptors

the receptors do not

duties, Miiller could still

still

be right.

we

perceive.

decide what

might be chemical or

electrical rather

than anatomical. There may very well be a receptor in the eye for red, another for blue, and so on without our being able to tell it by looking at them. So, too, with the skin receptors. All the receptors have to do is respond differently to different stimuli, and then make the proper connections in the sensory pathways so that the brain can keep their identities straight. If they do that, then Miiller's theory is right.

Specificity vs. Pattern. As we know, research workers have divided into two camps on this issue. Natanson, Helmholtz, Von Frey, Hecht, Stevens, and Dallenbach to mention but a few have stood by Miiller. Lotze, Hering, Goldscheider, Wever, and Nafe are some



who



or a lot from the anatomical point of view (4). They have held that receptors can send in to the nervous system different kinds of messages and that these messages, and not just the

departed a

little

receptors that sent them, affect our experiences.

Wever (45) used

to say, for example, that the frequency of impulses in the auditory

nerve had something to do with whether

low

we

hear a high tone or a

Hering believed that the same receptor could make us

tone.

red acting in one

way

see

and, sending in another kind of message, could

Nafe (33) has been saying that what receptors which ones they are, determines our perception. When people argue long and loud about something, there is a fair chance that both sides are partly right, partly wrong. So it seems to be in this case. Research has been telling us enough lately to let us make some decisions about these issues, and it looks more and more as though both camps are partly right. With very small electrodes and the right electrical systems, physiologists have been finding out just what receptors do when they are stimulated (10, 11, 15). Many facts of great interest have come out of their work. Let us spend

make us

see green.

do, not just

just a

little

time hitting their high points.

STRUCTURAL FACTORS IN PERCEPTION

Ch. 2]

31

Kinds of Receptors. It looks as though we have two kinds of receptors in all the senses. One kind responds in about the same way

The

as does the sense organ as a whole.

eye, for example,

can see

wave

lengths of light as long as 760 m\i and as short as 380 m\i.

Some

of the individual receptors in the eye

do exactly the same thing.

Their response, in fact, when plotted on a graph looks about the same as the over-all response of the eye (15). In hearing, too, some of the

>-

80

CD

60

O X UJ UJ

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UJ cr

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Relative excitability of four types of receptors found by Granit in differFig. 3. ent mammalian eyes. The cross-hatched and stippled portions of the "blue" and "green" receptors indicate variability in the exact forms of these curves. (From C. T. Morgan and E. Stellar, Physiological psychology [2d ed. ; New York McGrawHill Book Co., Inc., 1950]. By permission of the publisher.) :

receptors of the ear are aroused by about the

same range

of stimuli

the whole ear, namely, 20 cps to 20 kcps (10). In taste, too, there are receptors that give impulses to almost any kind of chemical as

is

stimulus, whether

these

it

be sour,

may be very good

salt,

or bitter (35).

Receptors such as

for telling us about the intensity of a stimulus

in perception. They cannot tell us much, howabout the nature of a stimulus. receptor that reacts just as does the eye as a whole, or the ear, or the tongue, is not good for quality of perception. It does not let us perceive different colors or

and are thus of help ever,

pitches or tastes.

A

PERCEPTION—AN APPROACH TO PERSONALITY

32

[Ch. 2

Besides these broad-band receptors, however, we have some narrow-band receptors cells that pick out only some of the spectrum of



stimuli that hit the receptors.

Granit (15), for example, has put his and gotten the records

electrodes in the retinas of various animals

shown in Figure 3. Some of the nerve cells he records from have peak responses at 600 mp, and he calls them red elements. Some have peaks at 530 mjj in the green, 580 mp in the yellow, and 450 mp

'°°°

FREQUENCY

10000



Thresholds of response at different frequencies for individual auditory Fig. 4. neurons. Data for three different elements are shown a 2,000-cycle element, a 2,600-cycle element, and a 3,700-cycle element. Each element is named by the frequency at which its threshold is lowest. Scale of intensity is in decibels below a reference level, and hence the larger the number the lower the threshold. (From R. Galambos and H. Davis, The response of single auditory-nerve fibers to acoustic stimulation, /. Neurophysiol., 1943, 6, 39-57. By permission of the authors and the :

publisher.)

in the blue.

Galambos (10), making the same kind of experiments

in a cat, finds

nerve

that react to a small part of the acoustic

cells

The examples

Figure 4 are of receptors with peaks at 2,000 cps, 2,600 cps, and 3,700 cps. And from the cat's tongue, Pfafifmann (35) has picked up cells that respond more to bitter than to salt or more to salt than to bitter. Those are the only experiments we have now, but we shall probably hear before long of similar results spectrum.

in

in smell or the skin senses.

Physiology

is

now

giving us an answer to the long debated ques-

tion whether receptors are at the root of the different qualities of

we have. Miiller was at least partly right. Receptors are One receptor picks out some stimuli to respond to more than others, and they somehow or other keep themselves identified experience

analyzers.

upstream

in the

nervous system.

We

can perceive different colors.

— STRUCTURAL FACTORS IN PERCEPTION

Ch. 2] tones, tastes,

33

and probably odors because different anatomical recepThere is little doubt about that.

tors send in messages.

Patterns for Messages. The story, however, is not as simple as might seem at first glance. We do not have receptor A sending in its private message over line A, and receptor B talking to the nervous system over line B. The notion of private lines from receptors to the brain is simple and attractive. Unfortunately, however, it is not true. Instead, receptors get hooked up with each other, so different receptors are talking to the nervous system at the same time. Their talk makes a complex pattern that must be uncoded by the nervous system it

we can perceive their To make this point clear,

before

meaning. let

us turn to some examples.

Pfaffmann's study of the taste receptors of the cat (35).

Take

first

What

he

STIMULUS ACID

SALT QUININE

FIBER A 1\

FIBER B !\

FIBER C

l\

A

A



Fig. 5. PfaflFmann's results with individual fibers from the taste nerve of the cat. A, type of fiber that responds only to acid; B, type of fiber that responds both to acid and salt and C, a type of fiber that responds to acid and quinine. ;

found makes the pattern shown in Figure 5. All the fibers that he got under his microelectrodes would respond to acids. They were, one might say, sour receptors. Some of the fibers would respond only to acid. Another type of fiber, however, responded to both acid and bitter stimuli. Still a third class reacted to acid and salt. So there are at least three classes of taste receptors in the Instead, the cat tastes "salt" "bitter"

when

fiber

C—are

B

is

when

fiber

A

is

signaling, but "sour"

cat.

They

let

way we might

perceive different tastes, but not in the simple

the cat expect.

sending in messages,

when

all

three fibers

a pattern of impulses that comes into the nervous system and that makes the basis for perceiving differ-

A, B, and

firing.

Thus

it is

ent tastes.

Coupling of Receptors. Pfaffmann's records of taste receptors fibers heading into the nervous system which have not yet

come from

— PERCEPTION—AN APPROACH TO PERSONALITY

34

[Ch. 2

At the first synapse, there are a lot of possibiHties more mixed up. Perhaps the different classes of A, B, and C make connections at these synapses that taste fibers make the pattern much more complicated. Certainly that happens in made

synapses.

for matters to get

the eye

and the

ear.



For example, the records

of Granit (15), referred to above, probably

of Galambos (10) and come from nerve cells

had synapse since the messages left the eye and ear (12). come from the third order ganglion cells of the eye, and Galambos' from second order neurons of the cochlear nucleus. Both scientists report complex patterns of response in the nerve cells that gave them their records. that have

Granit' s records probably

1

BLUE'

\ l\ i 1

'

V

YELLOW' V

/

K 450

500

550

600

650

700

450

WAVELENGTH

500

550

600

fm^)

—Coupling of

"red" and "green" receptors in the eye of the snake (left) and coupling of "blue" and "yellow" components in the eye of the frog (right). Both graphs are based on the work of Granit with microelectrodes. (From C. T. Morgan and E. Stellar, Physiological psychology [2d ed. New York McGraw-Hill Book Co., Inc., 1950]. By permission of the publisher.) Fig.

6.

;

:

In the eye we see receptors getting coupled together in various Receptors each responding to a narrow band of the spectrum hook into the same neurons after one or two synapses are passed. Just to make this point. Figure 6 shows a few of the records that Granit got from hundreds of experiments with all sorts of animals, including the frog, snake, and cat. Sometimes a green and a blue receptor are coupled together, sometimes a blue and a yellow, and ways.

sometimes there are other combinations. There are certainly cases in which many are ganged together in different ways. That can be proved by bleaching out some receptors with one wave length of light

STRUCTURAL FACTORS IN PERCEPTION

Ch. 2]

35

and then seeing what records the remaining receptors day, with the right facts in hand,

makes us

the coupling of receptors

know

we may

see different colors.

only that the receptors are coupled in

many

ways.

Life would be simple

Inhibition by Receptors.

Some how So far we

give.

be able to say exactly

if

receptors were

coupled together in only one way, so that their responses added up. Thus it would be nice if a red and a green receptor were so hooked 100

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250

/

ji

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AREAS

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/

1 1

1

1000

2000

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500

4000

FREQUENCY



Composite schematic diagram of inhibitory and response areas of indiFig. 7. vidual elements of the cat's auditory system. Probably no single element ever gives results exactly like those in the diagram. It shows, however, that inhibitory areas may occur at frequencies above, below, and the same as those involved in the response area of an element. (Based on Galambos and Davis, 1944. From C. T. Morgan and E. Stellar, Physiological psychology [2d ed. New York McGraw-Hill Book Co., Inc., 1950]. By permission of the publisher.) ;

onto the same bipolar or ganglion

:

cell that their responses simply Sadly enough, though, receptors not only add together, they also subtract from each other's effects. That is to say, when receptors are coupled together, one receptor sometimes inhibits or stops the effects of the other. We have examples of that in both hearing and seeing. Figure 7, for example, is from Galambos' experiments (11). Probably no one experiment ever gave exactly the picture seen there, but it permits the right conclusion. It shows that one receptor sometimes

added together.

PERCEPTION—AN APPROACH TO PERSONALITY

36

In the graph, there

inhibits another.

a nerve

is

cell

[Cli.

i

that reacts to a

narrow range of frequencies and best of all to 1,200 cps. By sounding tones at the same time as one at 1,200 cps, we see that the nerve cell can be inhibited. There is a region around 300 cps, another near 500 cps, and one at 1,800 cps that will give this inhibition. We do not entirely understand this kind of picture, but certain that the record fibers

tors

comes from a nerve

from the cochlea end.

when

It

cell

we

are reasonably

upon which

several

seems, too, that certain of the recep-

stimulated are stopping the impulses that were set off by

other receptors.

We find

this sort of coupling

ments with the ganglion

cells

From

eye.

of the retina,

light (14, 18).

As

is

MHIIIIIIIII

turning up in other kinds of experi-

electrodes in the optic nerve or in the

we can

shown

in

see several kinds of reactions to

Figure

JIU

8,

some nerve

cells

"go on,"

ill

MAINTAINED

ON-OFF

X-TYPE

Y-TYPE

OFF Z-TYPE



Fig. 8. Activity of three types of ganglion cells distinguished in the vertebrate eye by Hartline. (From S. H. Bartley, Some factors in brightness discrimination, Psychol. Rev., 1939, 46, 347. By permission of the author, the Psychological Review, and the American Psychological Association.)

that

is,

give impulses,

when

a light comes on.

Some

are in spon-

dark and stop firing when a light comes on. Still others go on when the light goes on, then stop while the light is on, and finally start firing again when the light goes off. The main point is that turning on a light can inhibit or stop impulses that have been started by other lights or in some other way. Thus we are led to believe that receptors are coupled not only by adding but also by subtracting, that is, by inhibiting arrangements taneous activity while the eye

is

in the

of various sorts.

We

do not understand just how the receptors add and subtract in We are starting to get the general idea though, and we are making progress year by year. As matters now stand, we know this much One cannot tell what a receptor does by the way it is built or how it looks. Receptors have different features that do not meet the eye. Some act like the sense organ as a whole, but others perception.

:

pick out only part of the sensory

gamut

of stimuli to react to.

We

can perceive different tones, colors, and tastes by what receptors signal that they are responding to. The signals, however, are not simple. In the synapses between the receptors and the brain, receptors get coupled to the same nerve cells. Sometimes this coupling adds up

STRUCTURAL FACTORS IN PERCEPTION

Ch. 2] signals

from

different receptors.

be inhibited by a receptor.

Our

Sometimes

37

causes a nerve

it

cell to

perception thus rests on very com-

plex patterns of signals coming from receptors.

Perception of Space

We

not only perceive amounts and kinds of stimuli, but

we

per-

and form of various stimuli in the world outside talking about anatomy and perception, we therefore need a us. In device of some sort for the perception of space. Offhand, of course, a mechanism like a camera might do. That is to say, if one spot on a sense organ connects with a spot up in the sensory centers of the brain, it would let the brain see, hear, or feel the picture of the world that the sense organ is getting. That is the idea that people have had about perception for a long time. Let us see what there is ceive the size, shape,

to

it.

Overlapping of Receptors.

—In Figure 9 we

that Bishop (3) has carried out fairly recently.

see

an experiment

He

got a machine

him prick the skin with an electric spark. Naturally such a spark was painful. With sparks flying, he mapped an area on the arm of a man so that he could tell where the nerve serving the skin was located. Having found nerve twigs in this way, he shot the skin with local anesthetic to deaden the nerve twigs. Then by deadening the that let

right set of nerve fibers, he could produce an island on the skin which was still sensitive to pain. Around it, however, was a ring of skin where the subject could feel no pain. By doing this kind of experiment over and over again. Bishop managed to map the area that each

nerve fiber of the skin served. This map, like that

it

turns out,

is

very

much

gotten in other experiments by other scientists using only

anatomical methods (41, pp. 16-43). There are three important points about the map. rather large area that each nerve fiber serves. across.

In some areas of the body, in

Another point

is

fact, it is

One is the may be a half-inch much wider than that. It

that nerves overlap a lot in the areas that they serve.

Indeed, a prick in almost any part of the arm arouses not just one free nerve receptor but two or three. The same is true of receptors in

A third point, the most important of all, is what point on our arm is pricked, or to tell the space between two points, is much less than the area served by any other parts of the body.

that our ability to

tell

one receptor. The reason, however, is almost obvious. It is that we never perceive the signal from just one receptor but always from two or three receptors.

The

set of signals

from two receptors

—which

PERCEPTION—AN APPROACH TO PERSONALITY

38

[Ch. 2



two they are and how strongly they signal tells us much more certainly where a prick is than we could know from just one receptor. Thus we have a sort of anatomical triangulation to help us in our perception of space.

Pricks on the skin just happen to be the method by which the in

Figure 9 was produced.

We

map

same must work

have a right to think that the

principle applies to other kinds of receptors.

It certainly

^